A Travellerspoint blog

streetsoup driving in Italia

How to stay cool on the roads by Beej

sunny 16 °C
View Tuscany Time on Mango3's travel map.

When you plan to go to the Continent you get a lot of advice from those who have done before or reckon they have. Prepareth for the lesson:
1. I was told by the transfer bus driver who drove me from the Sunny to Brissy AP that he spent four months per year in Lake Garda area of Northern Italy that Italian drivers were far better Qld. drivers. Are you kidding me mate?? It's bullshit.
1. They park anywhere anytime and anyhow regardless of restrictions
2. They don't stop at pedestrian crossings.
3. They tailgate outrageously
4. They overtake anywhere

So far the roads here have been narrow and winding, apart from the Autostrada's which let you do 130klm and God help you if you get caught in the left lane doing any less. Of course the Autostradas cost; tolls can go to 15 Euros if you stay on them long enough. Trucks are confined strictly to the right hand lane..in theory. Mostly rules and regulations are bent (seriously) and stuff you wouldn't dare do in Oz is common practice here. All I can say is that it's a real experience driving here and not just as simple as keeping to the right.

Given that you have to drive the trick is to go with the flow, keep moving, ignore the tailgaters and don't be afraid... leave the fear to your passenger.

In Florence the bus drivers deserve medals. They hurtle down narrow one-way streets flat out with literally millimetres either side of illegally and badly parked cars. However the Florence bus system is confusing and tiresome. There's no simple sense to it and the best thing is to ask.

Posted by Mango3 12:36 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

If you ever....

In Valtellina with the locals

overcast 14 °C

Poggirendenti Alto Valtellina is a very small hillside hamlet in the valley of the Adda River in far northern Italy. A few miles north is the Swiss border so it's almost as far north in Italy as you can go without yodelling. Poggi is a tight little community and their major social location is the Centivo Sportif. It consists of a tennis court, a bocce rink and probably a couple of other pursuits but the main attraction is the clubhouse which gets going around 6pm in the evenings. Wine is cheap and the food is good. Palmia, the do- all girl with a pretty face,quick smile and exploratory English flits around happily taking orders, serving drinks and mixing up who-knows-what behind the bar. When I remarked to the manager, a big friendly/busy guy that we were from Australia he placed his hand across his heart and heaved a big sigh widely translated as..."tell me something I dont' know....I don't understand..and my personal choice of...you lucky suckers. He promptly poured 3 shots of local hooch for us and toasted "salute"...it was bad shit but hey..you can't insult the locals so I took one for the team and drank TGW's as well!
So...if you are ever in the area I can recommend that they will welcome an Aussie

Posted by Mango3 12:07 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

streetsoup incontinent.

A short walk in Northern Italy. A short drive in Northern Italy. A short bicycle ride in Northern Italy

overcast 13 °C

Northern Italy is mostly straight up and down. Mostly up. There are two widths to the streets-narrow and narrower and walking them requires attention and good hearing. Yesterday I walked probably 10 kilometres to look at a defensive castle built in the 1600's and then eat a plate of Caprese washed down with a Vino Rossi from a bottle with no label. Observing that said bottle was covered with dust one of two reactions might occur after drinking-heaven or hell. As with all Italian wines tasted to date, it was the Pearly Gates.

Today I had my first drive on the wrong side of the road. I thought I did very well; my companions think differently. Apparently I have a tendency to get to close to the right hand edge of the road which, up here, can be disastrous if the inside running is a rocky hillside. It doesn't get any better when the lanes narrow to a small car's width and you literally have millimetres to the surrounding houses to pass through. I completed the task modestly successfully and took The Good Wife for coffee and Torte to calm the nerves.

The driving adventure quickly slipped into a memory as we undertook a bicycle ride along the miles of bikeways/walkways that run along the Adda River. Most of the time was spent looking for a non-materialising winery (any winery), with several misadventures at Ostrich farms and other establishments falsely representing themselves as wineries. After a few kilometres the bicycling novelty wore off and TGW was heard to enquire how serious bicyclists dealt with the sore arse issue.
After the ride we consoled ourselves at what turned out to be an Italian burger joint called "Black and White" in English and for no apparent reason. There we ordered food and wine quite successfully but as usual the Italian waiters struggled with the concept of "tap water". Obviously "aqua riberetto" is for washing the dishes with but one does not order other than stilled or sparkling from a bottle when dining. Get used to it guys, we are here to riberetto away.

Posted by Mango3 09:07 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Streetsoup Incontinent

Beej in the Halps

sunny -10 °C

l'Aiguille Du Midi summit on the Mt. Blanc Massif is 12000 feet. I went there yesterday and that's 8000 feet higher than I have ever been on land before. For the first part the cable cars whizz you up there, crushed in with a bunch of skiers etc. but after that the steps start. And that's where I stopped! Let me tell you at that height the air is pretty thin and these stairs, which I would normally take 2 at a time, took me forever.

By noon I was rooted. That was before a trip to the top of Le Brevent, a precarious stumble out to an overhang to shoot wing-suiters launching, and a surprise parasail out into the void over Chamonix Valley.
All in a day's work

Posted by Mango3 23:05 Archived in France Comments (0)

Streetsoup Incontinent

The Chamonix shuffle

sunny 3 °C

Under the general heading of "people watching" I now add the sub-head of "Chamonix Shuffle". This is a sight peculiar to ski towns, and involves the wearing of rigid ski boots through the streets on the way to the lifts. The gait is one of an exaggerated long rolling step accompanied by a loud clunk and I imagine it takes a little practice to pull it off. I'm thinking this was how Rock'n'Roll came into being?
Unfortunately a trip up Le Brevant was out yesterday because of the high winds so we mooched around town, ate Ham hocks with lentils for lunch, drank some excellent red in doing so, and generally did the touristy thing. Wine is cheap and good, so is the food. Everything else is not cheap.
There is a bloke who sits in a large carriage pulled by a massive draught horse, festooned in Russian Cossack style garb (both of them) and calls himself "Jivago" (as in Dr. Zhivago). He waits patiently for customers to pay for a ride in his carriage, and he affects a fierce scowl and as much as I want to photograph him (Luke says it would make a great portrait) I think he would likely climb down rip the Canon from my hands and afterwards I would have an inbuilt "Chamonix Shuffle"!.
Here's hoping the wind drops tomorrow for a trip to the top. Otherwise it's Snowshoeing through the valley. Ho Hum.
Streetsoup and Streetsoupette.

Posted by Mango3 23:12 Archived in France Comments (0)

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